Mainstream netbooks such as HP's Mini 1000 use Ubuntu Linux, but Microsoft says that industry is rapidly shifting towards Windows.
When Asus first launched its £199 Linux-based Eee PC
in 2007, it looked as though Linux had finally found a mainstream niche in the land of consumer computers. However, Microsoft claims that Linux’s brief spell at the top is now over, saying that 96 percent of netbooks sold now use Windows.
Microsoft’s Windows communications manager, Brandon LeBlanc, revealed the statistic on his Windows Experience Blog
, in which he also admits that Windows accounted for less than ten percent of the netbook market share in the first half of 2009. LeBlanc says that the figures are based on the latest NPD Retail Tracking Service data for February 2009, but they're also backed up by some netbook manufacturers. For example, MSI UK's marketing assistant, Pawel Adamiec, told us that "Windows XP accounts for over 98% sales"
when it comes to MSI's netbook sales.
LeBlanc jumped on the data to demonstrate that most people don’t want a netbook for a few OS-agnostic tasks, but instead want a fully-fledged PC that works in a familiar way. “Some believed consumers wouldn’t want or need their netbook PC to be a full-featured PC,”
says LeBlanc, “in fact, the exact opposite turned out to be true – a number of analysts and researchers following the space see ample evidence indicating customers really DO want netbook PCs to work like their larger brethren – and that the way the vast majority of consumers make that happen is by buying a netbook PC with Windows.”
LeBlanc also pointed to the increased return rates of Linux netbooks compared with Windows netbooks, linking to a story
about UK retailer Carphone Warehouse’s reported decision to stop selling Elonex's Ubuntu-based Elonex Webbook. According to the report linked by LeBlanc, the decision to stop selling the netbook was based on customer confustion, resulting in one in five of the machines being returned. However, Carphone Warehouse later denied the story
, saying that it was going to stop selling that line of netbooks anyway, regardless of the OS. That said, all netbooks available at the Carphone Warehouse now use Windows.
Similarly, LeBlanc also states that MSI "saw Linux return rates 4 times higher than Windows,"
but MSI denied this when we asked the company. "We’ve had no major return’s increase in models with Linux,"
said Adamiec, although he also pointed out that "as a manufacturer, we cover only hardware faults and they hardly ever result from OS-related issues."
Unafraid to put the boot in when it comes to Linux, LeBlanc claims that Windows is “easier to set up, easier to use, and easier to maintain.”
He also claims that Windows “just works with people’s stuff”
and cites examples of Windows’ support for nearly 3,000 printers, 700 digital cameras and 240 webcams. “Over the last 25 years, we’ve learned a lot about what people want out of an OS,
” says LeBlanc, “and we’ve built Windows to meet those needs.”
These needs, according to LeBlanc, include worldwide technical support, easy updates and wizard-based help. “You’ll never need to go to the command line and manually configure things,”
he says, and also points out that “Windows supports the broadest array of PC applications and games.”
Do you have or want a netbook? If so, would you be happy with Linux on it, or is Microsoft right in saying that Windows is more appropriate? Let us know your thoughts in the forums